Isn’t it interesting that just when you’re stuck for a solution or a new twist on a current design, a colleague can quickly identify what may be the sticking ground, just at a glance? How do they do that? Is it the length of time that you’ve looked at the situation so long it becomes opaque or non-transparent, can’t see any other alternatives? Or is it that your colleagues are wiser, a sage in their own right?

The term sage grew out of Old French in the 1300’s and was used to designate ‘one who knows’. Today, we commonly use this term to define an individual who uses reflection and prudent experience to practice good judgment, sometimes even in an ingenious way. In past centuries, sages were teachers or gurus removed from the community often in remote locations such as, the Sibylline Oracles in ancient Rome or the Buddhist gurus in Tibet. The isolation of these groups ensured no distractions other than the pursuit of higher thought and heightened spiritual clarity. But if you look in our daily environments today, you can find sages in every industry and cultural group, regardless of age.

What is the distinctiveness of your colleagues or family members that you would consider a sage and where do they come from? Sometimes it can be various communities that allow us to generate important fields of thought on what is possible. Sports communities foster the philosophies of fair play, team respect, and that experiencing loss is not failure. Learning is an important aspect from failure. Cultures that sustain specific rituals in preparation for adulthood, marriages, harvest, and even death support the ideas that there are other possibilities of living than what is presented by the media and the population at large. And let’s consider instinctive trust. Sages often exhibit an enormous power for inner trust. They are often their own authority on a subject, but humble. They use past experiences to look for proven methods, reflect on terms of fulfillment for today’s satisfaction; and subsequently, can coordinate the action of others to ensure innovation and ultimate client satisfaction. Normally, they do not suffer a sacrifice of excellence for the sake of fulfillment; and do not suffer anxiety or stress if they have broken the invisible rules of a given group. And interestingly enough, they are competent and sincere in their social engagements. How do they tap their inner sageness?

As each of us has talents that are unique and enduring, sages know their dynamics and continually develop them. They usually have a strong focus on their performance and standards of excellence rather than, trying to fit their talent into a specific stylistic mold. Additionally, they focus less on policy and procedure which could limit the remainder of us in our problem solving. They give considerable thought to the measurement of outcomes for the right solution to a problem; and concentrate on their strengths development without necessarily considering upward management promotion. Typically sages will ask themselves, “In my work setting, do I have the opportunity to practice my strengths while I can regularly learn new skills?”

To tap the sage within you, ask yourself:

  • Are you aware of inner core values that help you specialize in the tasks of the world that others consider impossible?
  • With your values, do you embody the uniqueness to inspire and motivate others?
  • Do you recognize that you weren’t necessarily born lucky, but born with innate gifts that will carry you and others to action?
  • Are you criticized for asking others to focus on smaller details that could lead to a big vision, even though they can’t see it at that moment?
  • When was a time you were thrown some work assignment or responsibility that you really weren’t prepared for? How did you accomplish this assignment then and is any of that experience relevant today?
  • When was a time that you were prevented from doing the best job you could; or, completing a project; or, delivering the level of quality you expected of yourself? Was it an organizational constraint or larger than that?
  • If you are assessed as different from the corporate or work culture, can you capitalize on this difference as being an important element of your self-worth?
  • Are there obstacles to developing your personal drive and can you develop an action plan to achieve higher levels of skill? Or is the primary obstacle your own reluctance to progress?
  • Under what conditions do you do your very best work? Are they here at this company?


“Learning sleeps and snores in libraries, but wisdom is everywhere, wide awake, on tiptoe.“
Josh Billings

Use your Sage Knowledge